Ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C, is a water-soluble vitamin that provides antioxidant protection and is needed for the conversion of vitamin D3 to its active form calcitriol.
It is also a cofactor of hydroxylating enzymes involved in the synthesis of collagen which is found in connective tissues such as ligaments and tendons.
Vitamin C is also involved in making norepinephrine, an important stress hormone and neurotransmitter.
Plants are an excellent source of ascorbic acid, especially green grass. But hay contains almost no vitamin C because it is unstable in stored hay. Grains are also not a good source of vitamin C.
Horses are able to produce up to 72 mg per day of ascorbic acid in the liver from glucose. Since horses can produce it endogenously, an ascorbic acid deficiency is very rare.
However, some researchers believe that supplementation may be beneficial during hot weather, stressful periods, high-level performance, and if they suspect poor production in the liver.
Wondering if your horse might need more vitamin C? Contact Mad Barn for a complimentary diet analysis and one of our equine nutritionists will be happy to help!